COUNCIL tax bills are set to rise again as town hall jobs are to be axed as a struggling borough seeks to balance the books.

Burnley residents have been warned they face an increase of more than £23 a year on their charge for their local authority services.

Cllr Mark Townsend admitted yesterday the ruling Labour group were looking at a two per cent increase in council tax for 2018/2019.

This would add £23.14 a year, 45p a week or seven pence a day, to the current £1,157.15p annual council tax bill from the borough for the average Band A terraced houses, which make up most of its housing stock.

The warning was included in a document to Burnley's Scrutiny Committee to be debated by councillors tomorrow night which also proposes a six per cent cut in staff costs, which could see at least 12 of 200 town hall jobs axed.

Paul White, the Pendle councillor who fought Burnley for the Tories in June's General Election, said: "This is grim news for residents."

Liberal Democrat group leader and former MP Gordon Birtwistle said: "Given Labour's history of mismanagement of the council over many years, this could be very bad for local people in terms of worse services at a higher cost."

The document on the latest budget position and savings proposals said governments austerity cuts had left the authority with the 'challenging task' of finding almost £1.5million by the end of 2021.

It said they have been left with 'no option' other than to cutting jobs, raising council tax bills and planning application fees.

The council's job losses would save £300,000.

Union boss Peter Thorne said he was 'sad' at the expected loss of five jobs by the end of the year and the loss of other positions by the end of 2019.

It is currently unclear which jobs would be removed and a council spokesman said they would be discussed at a meeting in November.

Savings of £150,000 will also be made by council tax increases.

Council leaders also plan to rake in £60,000 by charging for the new commercial waste disposal service and £70,000 by increasing planning application fees by 20 per cent.

Cllr Townsend said: "A lot of this is still speculation, especially around job losses.

"We will make decisions about staffing and the council tax later in the year but we are working on a two per cent increase for 2018/19.

"These are decisions we don't want to make but we have been hit by cuts in government grants year after year and have no choice but to look at these things.

"The increase in planning fees has been allowed by the government and we are examining a new commercial waste service to raise revenue for the council rather than it being provided by using private firms who also charge residents."

Cllr White said: "This is grim news for residents: worse services provided by fewer staff for higher council tax.

"It is typical Labour mismanagement of council finances.

"The council should be looking at innovative ways of saving money and cutting the number of councillors, the size of their allowances or both.

"But I don't think they should be looking at their own commercial waste service. Their record does not suggest they could run it at a profit."

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, said: "This is a delicate balance as it is a positive move to make council's more efficient,

"However if this is going to have a big effect on services then we would fight against it.

"We will oppose any council tax rise and will want to make sure that the jobs that go are not those providing front line services.

"This looks like more Labour mismanagement of the finances and I cannot see them running a profitable commercial waste service."

Mr Thorne, Unison union Burnley branch secretary, said: "It is sad to see jobs being removed.

"Five of the jobs are set to go this year and there could be up to seven full-time equivalent jobs going.

Cllr Mohammed Ishtiaq, the council's resources boss, said the governments austerity cuts impacts town's like Burnley the hardest.

Other savings included £50,000 by using the Lancashire Crime Commissioner's CCTV shared hub service, £14,000 from car parking charges at Thompson Park, which will come into effect in 2019.

Cllr Ishtiaq said: "Once again we face some tough challenges to balance our budget.

"It’s only prudent and sensible for us to try and predict as best we can what might happen so that we can plan our budgets and do our best to ensure essential services to our residents are maintained."